“Saving Snow Leopard Blog” readers will recall that last year saw the first ever get together of high government officials from ALL 12 snow leopard range countries in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic.
Initiated by the Kyrgyz President, the event was ground breaking and saw all the countries sign the “Bishkek Declaration”, promising to work together over the next 6 years to save snow leopards and their fragile ecosystems. This was an awesome event bringing in many partners like the large snow leopard conservation organisations, World Bank, the UNDP, INTERPOL and more.
Now this week, again in Kyrgyz Republic but this time in the beautiful lake region of Issyk Kul, a follow up meeting of delegates from all snow leopard countries starts the big journey of making the Declaration a reality.
The countries have put together the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), an important document outlining all the snow leopard threats in each country and the potential actions of the countries to stop the decline in the cat’s numbers. This is already a huge achievement by all representatives.
The objectives of this meeting are to identify the areas where the larger snow leopard populations exist. These areas are called ‘secure snow leopard landscapes’ and are defined as “those that contain at least 100 breeding age snow leopards conserved with the involvement of local communities, support adequate and secure prey populations, and have functional connectivity to other snow leopard landscapes, some of which cross international boundaries.”
In other words delegates need to agree on those areas which would benefit from more protection to ensure sustainable snow leopard breeding pairs into the future. Many of these areas are of course across different country borders and require what is called transboundary co-operation. Snow leopards tend to disregard country borders when they cross large ranges at high altitudes in the remote mountains so having countries agree to work together is vital.
As with all such big multilateral initiatives all the players must also agree on issues like funding sources, implementation timeframes, and performance measures and so on.
We wish all the delegates the best of luck in their work in this week’s important meeting. It is yet another milestone in the vital journey to secure a viable future for snow leopards and their important habitats for all time.
For Geography buffs -Lake Issyk Kul lies at an altitude of 1,607 metres (5,272 ft) and is the second largest mountain lake in the world behind Lake Titicaca in South America. It is 182 kilometres (113 mi) long and 60 kilometres (37 mi) wide, covering an area of 6,236 square kilometres (2,408 sq mi).